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Government global warming commitments are hot air as home insulation continues to fall –Tóibín

22 August, 2016

Figures received by Sinn Féin TD Peadar Tóibín in response to a Parliamentary Question indicate a downward trend in the number of homes that are insulated as part of the government funded Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme.

According to An Teachta Tóibín, this is despite a growing consensus worldwide that energy inefficient homes are a major contributor to manmade global warming.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“The trends with regards government backed investment and implementation run in the opposite direction to government rhetoric and PR. While the world is ramping up its response to global warming, our government has allowed in the last five years investment in insulation retrofitting fall by 15% and the number of houses retrofitted fall by of our housing stock fall by 66%.

“In the seven years of this scheme only 7% of the homes in the state have had any form of government supported insulation retrofitting. At this rate, it will take generations to complete what is in the long run a money saving scheme and environmental necessity.  

[Ref No.: 17564/16]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the funds allocated under the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme home fitted per category, in tabular form; and any unmet demand each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. - Peadar Tóibín.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 22nd June, 2016.

(663  Received on 17th June, 2016.)


Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Denis Naughten)
The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of my Department. The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty, which meet the defined eligibility criteria. The scheme is delivered through a combination of SEAI appointed Community Based Organisations (CBOs), augmented by a panel of private contractors in order to ensure national coverage. The homes of the scheme beneficiaries are retrofitted free of charge, thus making those homes more energy efficient. The measures available include draught proofing, attic insulation, lagging jackets for hot water tanks, low energy light bulbs and cavity wall insulation.

Since the scheme commenced in 2000, 123,174 homes around the country have received energy efficiency measures at a cost to the Exchequer of €161.75m. €16.5m has been allocated to the scheme for 2016.

Applications for the scheme are dealt with on a first come, first served basis. Once an application is made, contractors operating on behalf of SEAI survey the home to determine what measures are most suitable for that home. Once a survey has been completed, homes are issued to SEAI’s panel of appointed contractors and works typically proceed within a matter of days. The average waiting time from application to service delivery is 92 days, with the longest waiting period being six months. Demand for the scheme remains strong, clearly demonstrating its potential to continue to deliver energy efficiency gains and related benefits, such as reduced energy costs and better health outcomes.

The table attached illustrates the number of homes completed in the last five years of the scheme's operation, along with the number of homes completed in the previous ten years of the scheme and the number of homes completed so far in 2016.

Better Energy Warmer Homes

The Deputy will note that the average spend per home has increased considerably over the lifetime of the scheme. This is attributable to significant improvements in the building regulations, particularly with regard to draught proofing, that SEAI appointed contractors must meet and an increase in the average depth of renovation per home. Increasing the number of measures the typical home receives adds to the cost of the programme but delivers more energy savings and warmer, more comfortable homes to scheme beneficiaries.

SEAI has also been piloting a limited number of deeper interventions to homes that cannot be treated by some of the typical measures. These cannot be applied for but rather are chosen by SEAI from the pool of existing applicants based on a needs based assessment of the home. SEAI’s surveyors have strict guidelines to follow and the clients identified are those who are at the extreme end of fuel poverty and deprivation. Piloting deeper interventions through the Warmer Homes scheme is necessary to deliver learnings on the impact such interventions can have on those in energy poverty and also to ensure that the skills needed for such works are developed in the Irish construction sector.   

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